Police agencies may soon be able to equip street corners with microphones and video cameras to fight gun-related crime, the New York Times reports. The system, based on work by Dr. Theodore Berger of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California, uses the equipment and a computer to recognize gunshots, pinpoint where they came from, and transmit the coordinates to a command center. It relies on software that mimics the way the human brain receives, processes, and analyzes sound. The system has drawn the attention of police departments in Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Phoenix and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“When you put in automated gunshot recognition in a highly visible format like this, the residents no longer have to fear reprisal and the police no longer have to depend on the residents for accurate information,” said Bryan Baker, of Safety Dynamics. He and Berger co-founded the company in Oak Brook, Ill., 20 months ago to produce the system, called Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification, or Sentri. Berger said the system was able to distinguish gunshots from voices, car traffic and construction. “You can find that brains can do it, but you can’t find physical systems that can do it,” he said. “It’s very hard to corrupt the signal in such a way that we don’t know what’s going on.”